Mobile game of the week: You Must Build a Boat


You Must Build a Boat is a game about matching tiles as fast as you can so that monsters won't kill you, and tricking out your adventure boat.

Despite the title, most of the game is spent not boat-building, but fighting your way puzzles—or puzzling your way through fighters. In order to gain gold, brains, brawns, and other resources, your tiny character must descend into dungeons and battle his way out by shifting tiles into matching lines while jaunty chiptunes play in the background.

Your little pixelated man automatically sprints across the top of the screen until he encounters an obstacle like treasure chest or monster, and then in order to continue running you'll have match up three or more of the right tiles: keys, swords, magic staffs. But there's no time to dawdle. If you're too slow, as you often will be, you'll slowly get edged off the left side screen until you lose.

The game, however, has different take on this; every time your turn ends, it announces:

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As silly as it sounds, it's kind of nice to be told that you're constantly winning, and thanks to the constant powerups and tiny successes sprinkled throughout You Must Build a Boat, you always feel like you're getting better even when you're constantly dying. This forgiving attitude is a nice antidote to the relentless pace of the game, which can feel pretty frantic when you find yourself boxed in by an encroaching monster and all you seem to have are goddamn keys. It also makes me feel more inclined to open the game while I'm waiting for the bus and just run through a dungeon or two. After all, what's the worst thing that's going to happen: I'll win?

If you've ever played the RPG puzzle game 10,000,000 by the same developer, this is all going to look very familiar; in that game, you were an adventurer trying to battle your way out of a dungeon; here, you're sailing free on the sea in the titular boat, possibly after you have escaped from that dungeon.

Over time, you make your way to new locations, face new challenges, and recruit monsters who assist you on your quest to build the sickest boat. Although the game available on Mac or PC, it's much better as a mobile game on iOS or Android. It's $2.99, so go build a boat, already.